City Centre Mirror
Known to many Toronto foodies as the city’s ‘food sleuth,’ Kensington Market area resident Marion Kane is devoting her current efforts to remembering one of the world’s best-known food icons and an old friend.
Kane, who spent 11 years as the Toronto Star’s food editor and followed that by freelancing as a food critic for the daily, remains active in the food game.
She has penned three books, including Dish, which contains some of her favourite columns and recipes, and is now devoting her time to her blog and podcasts.
These days, she is looking back on the long and notable career of the world’s most-renowned celebrity chef, Julia Child.
With Aug. 15 marking what would have been Child’s 100th birthday, Kane thought the time was right to look back on her friend. Her most recent podcast is the first in a series looking back on Child’s life in food.
“She always imparted the message I wanted to impart,” Kane said of Child. “She lived to share her passion, which was cooking.”
Kane met Child when the Star hosted her on her first visit to Canada in 1991. The pair enjoyed a lunch catered by top Toronto chefs at the Four Seasons and Child gave a cooking demonstration at George Brown College.
“She and I were inseparable for that whole day – we even slept in the same hotel,” Kane said. “She wanted me around and I wanted to be around her.”
Kane said the two shared an almost mother-daughter relationship, with the celebrity chef taking the younger food writer under her wing.
The Toronto writer was most impressed with the way Child demystified food, particularly French cuisine, making the art of cooking accessible to all. At a time when many were using pre-packaged foods and mixes to prepare meals, Child opened the door to homemade recipes, focusing on technique but doing so in a way amateur cooks could understand.
“She taught things like ‘how do you use a knife’ or ‘how do you de-glaze a pan’ or ‘how do you make stock,’ and not in a complicated way,” Kane said. “She knew that once someone knows the basic techniques, they can be creative and confident.”
While Kane did not spend much time with Child personally, they kept in touch over the years through letters.
“Even a couple of weeks before she died, she sent me her recipe for tarte tatin,” Kane said.
Kane was in the U.K. when she heard word of Child’s death but asked the Star to allow her to write her friend’s obituary.
These days, Kane remains active on the food scene through her website. While she believes food television has deteriorated, she still has favourites, including Jamie Oliver.
“I was able to interview him in person, which is quite a humbling experience if you’re a woman,” she said.
The seasoned writer also has a laundry list of favourite Toronto chefs, including Jamie Kennedy, Keith Froggett, Suzanne Baby, Arpi Magyar and others.
As for local eateries, she counts Frank’s Kitchen in Little Italy and Amadeus in Kensington Market as her top picks.
“At Frank’s Kitchen, I had one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had – lobster in a light, aromatic sauce full of vegetables,” she said. “Amadeus makes a great Portuguese steak and has been a great neighbourhood hangout for 30 years.”
Kane has also contributed time to Alexandra Park’s community cookbook A Pinch of This and to a cookbook that she worked on with Foodshare that is slated to come out this fall.
“I have the seeds of a memoir germinating, but at this point, they’re just seeds,” she said. “Right now, I’m focusing on the podcasts, which take up a lot of my time, but they’re something I just love doing.”
The podcasts and her blog can be found at www.marionkane.com